In Depth

Apple to make all its products from recycled materials

Tech giant ramps up efforts to reduce mining, but reports say fully recycled devices are some way off

Apple has set itself a goal of manufacturing products that contain only recycled materials as it tries to "reduce the need to mine materials from the earth".

In its environmental report, the Cupertino-based company says its exploring a "closed-loop supply chain, where products are made using only renewable resources or recycled material".

It plans on achieving this by investing in technology that can reclaim minerals from its products and encouraging customers to return products under its Renew recycling scheme.

Its pledge could be seen as a reaction to the criticism the technology industry has encountered in recent years for using "conflicted minerals" such as tin and cobalt, says the Financial Times, which are "mined from sites controlled by violent militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo and nearby areas."

Apple does appear to be ramping up efforts to move away from these minerals. Greenpeace analyst Gary Cook told Vice the tech giant seems to be the only company fully committed to "making everything 100 per cent out of recycled materials". 

He added: "Other companies have commitments on using a certain amount of recycled plastic", although he said he was "not aware of a company that size that has made a similar commitment". 

However, "the day that [Apple's] aspiration becomes reality may yet be far in the future", says ArsTechnica. Its Liam recycling robot can only dismantle 2.4 million units per year - which is "far lower than what Apple sells".

Nevertheless, the firm is "using 100 per cent recycled tin in logic boards for the iPhone 6S", the website adds, as well as recycling "aluminium reclaimed from old iPhone 6 models to make Mac Minis for iPhone assembly lines". 

Apple has yet to announce a time limit of when it plans to use 100 per cent recycled materials, although more details may emerge during its iPhone conference later this year. 

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